How to write a character assessment letter they can’t turn away

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You’ve been asked to write a character assessment letter and are probably wondering why is a character assessment letter needed and what’s the best way to write one? 

Here’s why employers want character assessment letters: a CareerBuilder survey indicates that nearly 75% of employers have been adversely affected by a bad hire, costing them an average of nearly $15,000 per hiring mistake. Given the sheer volume of applications employers receive for jobs, it’s important for companies to weed out the candidates who are a good fit from those who aren’t, especially when it comes to high-paying positions where a lot is at stake.

This is where the character assessment letter, also known as a character reference letter, comes into play: resumes alone do not tell the complete story about a job applicant, even if she is attractive, friendly, and ambitious, and she has an Ivy League pedigree. Companies that value profitability and a diverse and inclusive workplace often require a character assessment letter from someone who knows the applicant well so that they select high-level employees who will be a good cultural fit for the organization.

The key elements of a character assessment letter

First and foremost, a successful character assessment letter “should be specific as to how the referee has interacted or observed the individual they are supporting. Specific skills observed or tasks accomplished will give the reader a stronger sense as to how the candidate may fit with the position being considered. A general or vague reference can cause more questions and leave the reader unclear as to the validity of the reference,” said Maureen Pernick Huber, Associate Director of SUNY College at Buffalo’s Career Development Center.

Your letter will help provide an employer with critical information about the applicant’s positive attributes that help him perform well on the job. The letter should include the following details:

The nature of your relationship to the job candidate

How long have you known the person and in what capacity? Here’s an example, “Justin and I have worked together at Company X for Y years.” 

The applicant’s positive traits

Here’s your opportunity to describe the job candidate’s best qualities. You should try to write about at least three traits and how they’ll benefit the prospective employer. The following list of positive qualities are worth mentioning:

 

trustworthiness intelligence determination personality resourcefulness
commitment willingness to work hard communication skills collaboration skills leadership skills
ethics attitude curiosity efficiency integrity

Your statement of recommendation

You should conclude your character assessment letter with a recommendation. Here’s an example: “I highly recommend Jennifer for this position because she would be a valuable asset to your organization.”

Your contact organization

Be sure to include your name, email address and phone number.

A character assessment letter template

Here’s an example of a really strong character assessment letter that highlights the job candidate’s positive qualities with specific examples:

 

Your Company Name or Logo

123 Your Street

Your City, ST 12345

(123) 456-7890

no_reply@example.com

March 15, 20XX

Mr. Christopher Employer

123 Address St 

Anytown, ST 12345

 

Dear Mr. Employer,

Erica Williams and I met while working in JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Securities division and I have been acquainted with her for more than five years.

Erica is one of the most intelligent, hard-working colleagues I have ever had the pleasure of working with. She has exhibited tremendous leadership skills on several core projects and her ability to inspire and direct a team to achieve its goals is second to none. I remember one project, in particular, in which we worked under intense pressure with a very short deadline. While others panicked, Erica remained calm, collected and focused on the task at hand. Her dedication and resourcefulness helped our team deliver superb, award-winning results.

Erica is the type of employee who will bring a great return on investment to your organization, given her can-do attitude, integrity and determination.

I strongly recommend Erica for this position because she brings several excellent personal and professional qualities to the table. She is an immense talent and your organization will benefit greatly from having her on the team.

Please do feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss Erica’s qualifications in greater detail.

Best regards,

Your Name

Your Title

Bonus tips for a really strong character assessment letter

  • Be positive—be upbeat about the job candidate’s traits and accomplishments.
  • Cite examples—illustrate positive traits with specific instances of excellence.
  • Be concise—one page will suffice because hiring personnel tend to be short on time.
  • Exclude private details—avoid mentioning anything that could be embarrassing.